The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan has released video showing the remains of 17 Pakistani soldiers who were beheaded after being captured and executed during fighting in the northwestern district of Dir just three days ago.
The graphic video, which was obtained by The Long War Journal, was sent to journalists by Ihsanullah Ihsan, a spokesman for the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan.
The videotape includes a statement by Hakeemullah Mehsud, the leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. Hakeemullah promises that the Taliban will continue to fight the Pakistani military until the government enforces sharia, or Islamic law, and stops supporting the US in the region.
In the video, the Taliban show the heads of 17 Pakistani soldiers displayed on a white sheet; the Taliban claim that 18 soldiers were killed during the fighting. The Taliban fighters are standing around the gruesome display, holding weapons as the camera pans back and forth to show the soldiers’ remains. The Taliban then show the military identification cards of the slain soldiers.
The 17 soldiers were killed after more than 100 Taliban fighters crossed the border from Kunar province in Afghanistan and attacked the Pakistani troops. Sirajuddin Ahmad, a spokesman for the Malakand Taliban, which operates under the command of Mullah Fazlullah, initially claimed credit for the attack and said 17 soldiers were killed.
“Our fight will continue until the establishment of sharia law in Pakistan …. We will fight whoever tries to stand in our way,” Ahmad told Reuters the day after the battle.
Videotape the latest of a Taliban execution of Pakistani security forces
The Pakistani Taliban routinely videotape executions of their captives. The most recent high-profile execution, which was recorded in a videotape that was later distributed, took place in June 2011, when the Taliban captured 16 Pakistani policemen in Dir, lined them up, and executed them via firing squad.
The policemen had been captured after the Taliban crossed the border from Kunar province in Afghanistan and attacked police outposts and villages in the Shaltalu area on June 1, 2011. The raid sparked a pitched battle that lasted for several days. Dozens of Pakistani policemen were taken hostage during the ensuing fighting. Although Pakistani officials claimed that 27 policemen and 45 Taliban fighters were killed during the raid, independent news reports put the number of policemen killed at more than 40. [See LWJ report, Video of brutal Taliban execution of Pakistani policemen emerges.]
In February 2011, Hakeemullah Mehsud, the emir of Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, released a videotape of the execution of a former Pakistani military intelligence official known as Colonel Imam. Although Imam, a senior officer in Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, was a favorite of the Afghan Taliban for his support of Mullah Omar, the Pakistani Taliban accused him spying against the terror group. [See LWJ report, Video: Pakistani Taliban execute Colonel Imam.]
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.